Thursday, February 3, 2011

Microsoft On Hacked Windows Phone 7 And Live Services

If you're following the news you most probably heard that Microsoft's latest mobile platform was ported successfully to the HTC HD2 and more recently the first two Windows Phone 7 custom ROMs have seen the light of day. You also heard of the certain "workaround" for activating the Live Services (such as Zune, Marketplace and Xbox Live) on smartphones that are not legacy Windows Phone 7 devices, but what you didn't hear was Microsoft's word on all this.

We couldn’t help but speculate on the copyright issues related to both the platform and the services and ask ourselves what will be the stance of Redmond related to all the above, knowing the way Microsoft chose to "ignore" custom Windows Phone/Mobile ROMs in the past. With the new platform wearing the number seven, Microsoft started from scratch and outed a mobile operating system that was intended to be more locked down in order to maintain control over -- or at least try to limit -- the impact of possible future security related issues.

Contacted by, the company has responded to our query and made its position public: "Microsoft does not support Windows Phones that have been altered from manufacturer and carrier specifications and we caution that such alterations can dramatically impact reliability, performance, compatibility and security". While "not supporting" and "tolerating" can still go well together, we understand that the main concerns are referring to possible events which could jeopardize the experience -- reliability, performance, compatibility and security -- and not the platform itself. Talk about user-oriented policy!

With reference to the Live Services being hacked, Redmond confirmed us that the company "does make product keys available for select support scenarios" but "these keys are not intended to allow for the installation of software onto unsupported hardware. We are investigating whether or not additional steps are needed to discourage the improper use of product keys".

Here's what we understand from all the above: while custom ROMs are just simply “not supported” and could impact on those mentioned above, the product key issue is indeed under investigation. The bit related to the Live Services seems to be more severe -- and it should be as it involves several third parties, think only music, games, apps -- while the product itself, Windows Phone 7, can be "tolerated" on unsupported hardware. The platform without the Live Services is really not that appealing and usable -- this is where sideloading steps in, with reference to which we don't know Microsoft's position just yet.


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